If you’ve ever stepped up into one of Kiwi.com’s offices, no matter if it’s the headquarters in Brno, the new office in Bratislava, co-working in Barcelona or elsewhere), the results of Lucia Skálová’s daily job definitely impacted you. It could have been the comfy chair you sat in, the picture on the wall that grabbed your attention or the overall feeling you had there.
Lucia is Kiwi.com’s Real Estate Lead. Out of the jargon, she makes sure everyone feels good in the offices, has a desk and chair to sit and that the offices meet the necessary technical requirements.
When you started working at Kiwi.com three years ago, did you imagine that you would be involved in opening every single Kiwi.com office, including moving 10,000 m² to a new place?
Not at all. I still remember the first lunch I had with Renata, my boss. If you told me back then that one day I would be dealing with a lease agreement for a Miami office, I wouldn’t believe you. However, this is why I like my job, it’s everything but routine. I’m happy I’m a part of such projects, I’m challenged every day and my lead trusts in me. I’m developing in my role and growing in the field. Sometimes, the pace scares me a bit, but I guess it’s normal.
One of your responsibilities is the design of all the offices, how do you make sure it’s consistent?
The visual style is done by only one company so that everyone who enters our offices anywhere in the world knows they are in Kiwi.com. Each of our offices should keep its individuality but at the same time, we make sure it all works together as one design reflecting the Kiwi.com feeling.
What is this Kiwi.com feeling and how do you make sure the design reflects it?
In the ideal scenario, the company has identified its culture, DNA, and values. Here at Kiwi.com, we will be always improving all of it, because options are limitless. We all somehow know what the Kiwi.com essence is, although it is not explicitly written anywhere. I’ve been working here for three years already and I kind of absorbed it and I can work with it.
This knowledge and also constant feedback from the senior management and employees are the basis for further work with the architects. We briefed them well and they know about the specific ways of work of our teams here—Engineering, Customer Support and other departments. They build upon this fact.
Kiwi.com plans to move its headquarters to a new office in Brno. How would the office look like if you were the architect?
I’m a very pragmatic type. The design is important, it should please the eyes, but for me, space must be functional, effective, and meet with its goals. A space that is nice but useless is a waste. I’m often a person who navigates the architect to make sure everything makes sense.
What is crucial for you to make sure the workplace makes sense?
We’re making a mistake if we try to glue people to their working tables, everyone should have the chance to move around the office, find a calm spot where they can focus and be productive.
You’ve been on an inspirational tour to Silicon Valley famous offices, how was the trip and what are your takeaways?
We spent two weeks there and visited all the tech giants—Google, Netflix, Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook—all those whose meeting rooms you find in design magazines all over the world.
Often it seemed they invested loads of money into these wow rooms but the people were sitting in hangars. I would do it vice versa, invest in the ergonomy, standing desks, places where people spend the most time. The common areas are stunning, the campuses amazing, but I lacked investment in the places for individuals. Facebook is proud of having the biggest open space office in the world. When you enter, you can’t see the opposite wall, in many offices you can still find archaic cubicles.
It’s a different culture and you can see it and feel it from the office design and from how people work.
It was nice to see their office life, how they use technology in the meeting rooms and how everything can be done in two clicks and works smoothly. It was inspiring to see that teams having their own meeting rooms and senior management have the right to kick off people out of meeting rooms when they need it.
However, it’s important not to copy-paste what we saw but to build and design offices that reflect the way Kiwi.com works.